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Archive for July, 2013

This Week in Music History: July 29 to August 1

Posted on: July 30th, 2013 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By Adam Bunch


BLUE RODEO’S LOST TOGETHER

By the time this week rolled around in 1992, Blue Rodeo had already released three full-length albums. But Lost Together, which dropped on August 4 of that year, would be hailed as the group’s greatest record yet. It was filled with hit singles, including “Flying,” “Rain Down On Me” and the title track, that helped push sales of the LP all the way up to double platinum in Canada; fans scooped up more than 200,000 copies.

It was the last time that keyboardist Bob Wiseman would appear on one of the band’s albums, as he headed off to pursue his own wildly successful solo career. However, Blue Rodeo’s popularity would keep on building. Their next record, Five Days in July, would come out the very next year and sell three times as many copies as its predecessor.

Seven more studio albums would follow before the members of Blue Rodeo were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2012. Another one is expected this fall.

 

MAYNARD FERGUSON BLOWS OUT THE OLYMPIC FLAME

Maynard Ferguson was no stranger to the spotlight. The native Montrealer (and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee) is considered to be one of the greatest trumpet players of all time. In a career that spanned an unbelievable eight decades – from the swing era of the 1930s all the way through the rise of rock ’n’ roll and into the new millennium – Ferguson played on the world’s most famous stages, on its most popular television shows and on the soundtracks to some of Hollywood’s biggest movies. He was a familiar name not only in Canada, but in England and the United States, too.

Still, the brightest spotlight Ferguson ever played under might very well have come on this week in 1976. The closing ceremony for Montreal’s Olympic Games was held at the Big O on August 1. At the end of an elaborate spectacle involving hundreds of performers, Ferguson appeared on stage in a white suit, trumpet in hand. He played “Pagliacci” as the Olympic flame dimmed behind him, symbolically blowing it out. His performance was seen by millions of people all around the world – that closing ceremony earned the highest television ratings until Beijing’s in 2008.

 

THE BIRTH OF ANTOINE GÉRIN-LAJOIE

It was on August 4, 1824, that Antoine Gérin-Lajoie was born in the province we now know as Quebec. That was 189 years ago. He would grow up to become a writer and reporter, librarian, translator and civil servant. He’s best remembered, though, for something he did while he was still in school. That’s when he wrote one of the most important and popular folk songs in Canadian history: “Un Canadien errant.”

He wrote the song just a few years after the Rebellions of 1837, when Canadian rebels in Quebec and Ontario tried to overthrow the British in favour of democracy and free elections. The revolution failed. Many of the rebels and their supporters were hanged or exiled without trial. “Un Canadien errant” tells the story of one of those exiles who longs for a chance to return home to his friends and family. It soon became an anthem for Canadians who believed in true democracy and, more recently, for any homesick Canadian travelling abroad.

The song had something of a revival in the 1960s, thanks to a popular cover by the folk duo (and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees) Ian & Sylvia. Since then, it’s been recorded by everyone from Leonard Cohen (another member of the Hall of Fame) to Nana Mouskouri to Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland. It was even used as the Canadian theme music for the video game “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandigeo?”

Loudon Wainwright III Makes Good Summer Music

Posted on: July 25th, 2013 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By James Sandham

As this sweaty weather drags on, I find that I’ve been reflecting more and more on the lovely week I spent at the cottage, flipping through the photos we took and generally just pining away to be back there again.

I’ve also been listening to a lot of Loudon Wainwright III, who happened to figure prominently on our cottage playlists. I’d never really gotten into him before, but it turned out that his particular brand of country-infused folk was just the ticket for whiling away lazy days by the lake, having barbecues or just sitting by the Saugeen River while watching the boats go by.

Subsequently, when I got back home, I decided I’d find out a bit more about him. I knew he was the father of Rufus and Martha Wainright, so I’d always assumed he was a Canadian. Wrong. Turns out that the marriage that spawned those famous offspring – to the late Québécois chanteuse Kate McGarrigle – was a relatively short-lived segment of his life and took place mainly outside of Canada anyway, in New York City, where he and McGarrigle were both part of the city’s burgeoning 1970s folk scene. So much for the Canadian connection!

That wasn’t the only thing I found out about Loudon Wainwright, though. To my surprise, I discovered that he was also a successful actor and had achieved early fame on television as Captain Calvin Spalding, the “singing surgeon” on “M*A*S*H.” He has also appeared in a number of films, including small parts in such big-name productions as The Aviator (starring Leonardo DiCaprio), The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, for which he also composed some of the music, along with Joe Henry.

Wainwright’s main claim to fame, however, remains his Grammy Award–winning music. He’s released over 20 albums in his 40-plus year career and has carved out a distinctive niche in the folk music scene.

I think what draws me to his songs is their lyrics. While their rhyme structure is often simple – almost in a playfully childish way – they are also witty and insightful. A lot of his songs are also just plain funny – to wit, the song “Rufus is a Tit Man,” which is about his son breastfeeding.

But his best song – at least, as far as summer goes – has to be “The Swimming Song,” which captures the cottage spirit perfectly. So that’s what I’ll leave you with, in the form of a fan video made by my wife. It’ll probably leave you pining for the cottage too.

Southampton from The Farmer’s Only Daughter on Vimeo

This Week In Music History: July 22 to 28

Posted on: July 23rd, 2013 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By Adam Bunch

Little Caesar & The Consuls Hit The Charts

Little Caesar & The Consuls were one of Canada’s very first rock ’n’ roll bands. They formed in Toronto all the way back in 1957 and quickly made a name for themselves on the high school dance circuit. That was thanks in part to their teenage guitar phenom, Robbie Robertson. His distinctive, raunchy playing would have a profound influence on the young musicians who saw him perform at their school dances in those early days – and it’s Robertson, more than anyone else, who gets credit for developing the gritty “Toronto Sound” that swept through the city in the 1960s. For the next decade, Yorkville and the Yonge Street strip would be full of guitarists trying to sound like him.

Robertson wasn’t with Little Caesar & The Consuls for very long, though. He would soon join another one of the city’s most popular early rock acts: Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks. A few years later – after leaving Hawkins, meeting Bob Dylan and re-naming themselves The Band – the former Hawks would become one of the most famous rock groups on Earth. They were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1989.

Even without Robertson, Little Caesar & The Consuls made a mark on the Canadian music scene. They had a string of hits, including a cover of “(My Girl) Sloopy,” which was in the top 10 of the CHUM Chart during this week in 1965.

*****

“Takin’ Care of Business” in the Summer of ’74

Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO) formed more than 40 years ago, in the wake of Randy Bachman’s departure from The Guess Who. Decades later, the band’s biggest hit is still a staple of radio station playlists and summer barbecues all over the country. But it was never more popular than it was during this week in 1974. That’s when “Takin’ Care of Business” sat atop the CHUM Chart.

The song would spend 15 weeks on the chart and become one of the defining songs of the summer of 1974, sharing the airwaves with other new hits such as “I Shot the Sheriff” by Eric Clapton, “Waterloo” by ABBA, “Band on the Run” by Wings and “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot. Even The Guess Who got in on the act with “Clap for the Wolfman.”

It actually could have been two hits for The Guess Who, as Bachman originally wrote “Takin’ Care of Business” for them. It was called “White Collar Worker” back then and it had a different chorus. Burton Cummings refused to record it, though, dismissing it as a ripoff of The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer.” After Bachman left the band and started BTO he made some changes to the song – including a new, catchier chorus – and turned it into a No. 1 hit.

Bachman was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame as a member of The Guess Who in 1987.

 

The Birth of Maureen Forrester

On July 25, 1930, one of Canada’s greatest opera singers was born. Maureen Forrester grew up in Montreal, the daughter of British immigrants. They weren’t a rich family; she was forced to drop out of school at the age of 13 in order to get a job. But through it all, she kept singing: in choirs, in church and eventually on the stage.

By the time Forrester was in her mid-20s, she was ready to make her concert debut. It came in 1957 with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of one of the most revered conductors of the 20th century: Otto Klemperer. Before long, Forrester had established herself as one of the most talented contraltos in the world. She sang on five different continents by the end of her career, which lasted for decades.

Still, Canada always had a special place in her heart. Forrester spent years serving as the chair of the Canada Council for the Arts and she made sure to perform work by Canadian composers, bringing their talent to the attention of the rest of the world. She was made a companion of the Order of Canada in 1967, the very first year that honour was created, and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1990.

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